Major health claims for drinking waters that contain calcium and magnesium have been promoted for centuries. However, the first scientific studies of health claims were not completed and published under relevant government auspices until 1976 in Europe and 1981 in the USA (see reference 1 and reference 2 below). Despite expert opinion and speculation, neither publication was able to identify how consuming minerals in water produced significant health and longevity effects. The latter USA National Academy of Sciences study showed that people lived significantly longer when they lived in areas of the USA that had magnesium in drinking water supplies.
Recently, medical specialists and scientists who conducted a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and World Health Organization (WHO) registered clinical trial at the prestigious medical teaching hospital St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, uncovered how magnesium works in the body when consumed in drinking water. Certain forms of magnesium are known to be bioavailable, particularly in drinking water. That is, the magnesium is readily absorbed into the body, can be identified in the serum and is available for cell activity. It is both the form of magnesium and optimal water intake (optimal body hydration) that appears to be important.
Amongst a range of positive clinical trial results in the above mentioned clinical trial, it was found that bioavailable magnesium consumed in drinking water resulted in significant increases in serum magnesium levels. These increased serum levels of magnesium significantly stabilised serum parathyroid hormone levels and prevented parathyroid hormone increases. See positive clinical trial result for stabilising parathyroid hormone. This result is important because chronic increases in serum parathyroid hormone levels are correlated to the major diseases of ageing such as osteoporosis, increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes and the pathological deposition of calcium in atherosclerosis (‘hardening of arteries’). Indeed, many studies link increased parathyroid hormone levels to an increase in mortality. For example, see parathyroid hormone, cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
Recent medical epidemiological studies show the consumption of drinking water that contains magnesium results in decreased death from cardiovascular disease and stroke – diseases often correlated to increases in serum parathyroid hormone. For example, see a meta-analysis of high quality case control studies, and a major review of epidemiological studies on drinking water and a large case control study (17,133 and 17,133 controls) and circulating and dietary magnesium and risk of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease and stroke are major causes of death in Australia and other Western countries.
Perhaps it is not surprising that bioavailable magnesium intake can stabilise parathyroid hormone levels. It is well known that magnesium, like calcium, activates receptors in the parathyroid glands of the body. When these receptors are activated, parathyroid hormone release is inhibited. Indeed, clinical studies have shown that high serum magnesium levels decrease parathyroid hormone secretion. It has been reported in medical literature that high serum magnesium levels give a significant reduction in the risk of osteoarthritis. For example, see knee osteoarthritis in female twins and dietary magnesium intake and radiographic knee osteoarthritis and serum magnesium concentration and radiographic knee osteoarthritis. See also below photographs of osteoarthritis before and after consumption of bioavailable magnesium. The parathyroid hormone receptors on cartilage cells (chondrocytes) are considered to play a role in the development of osteophytes in arthritis. Because bioavailable magnesium stabilises or decreases chronic parathyroid hormone secretion, the parathyroid hormone receptors that are expressed extensively on cartilage cells may not be activated by the lower levels of parathyroid hormone that result from higher levels of magnesium.
Since the above mentioned clinical trial as St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, it has been shown that magnesium can be considered a wide-range inhibitor of the whole parathyroid function and magnesium helps to modulate the complex calcium, vitamin D, phosphate, parathyroid hormone, fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) system in the body – a vital system for the maintenance of health. For example, see magnesium modulates parathyroid hormone.
It was found also in the clinical trial that the consumption of bioavailable magnesium in drinking water had many more positive clinical trial results. For example, when 1 to 2 litres of water that contained bioavailable magnesium was consumed per day, there were significant increases in the cell energy (ATP) storage molecule phosphocreatine and significant increases in serum potassium levels. Increased serum potassium levels, as identified in the clinical trial, are necessary for maintaining optimal membrane potentials in cells. This is especially important in maintaining function in excitable cells such as nerve, muscle and heart.
A very interesting result from the clinical trial was that the consumption of 1 to 2 litres of water per se per day was correlated to changes in serum albumin protein levels. Importantly, increased serum albumin levels have been correlated positively to a decrease in death from all medical causes. Read peer-reviewed medical articles on increased serum albumin decreasing all-cause mortality. It is interesting that the consumption of alcohol, a known body and cell dehydrating substance, decreases albumin production in the body relative to water consumption. See Moderate and large doses of ethanol differentially affect hepatic protein metabolism in humans.
The prestigious USA National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that drinking water can be a source of magnesium and that there is an increased interest in the role of magnesium consumption in preventing and managing hypertension, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and migraine headache. See NIH Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.